FILE - A female sockeye salmon heads upstream towards Klushu Lake in southern Yukon. On Friday, May 15, 2020, the Council of the Haida Nation announced the Yakoun, Ain and Awun rivers that flow into Masset Inlet will not open to traditional sockeye fishing in 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News photo)

Rivers flowing into Masset Inlet will not open to traditional sockeye fishing in 2020: CHN

Yakoun, Ain, Awun rivers closed due to low escapement numbers, stress from Dinan Bay diesel spill

Haida traditional sockeye fisheries in Masset Inlet will not open in 2020.

In a May 15 Haida Fisheries Program letter posted on the Haida Nation website, the Council of the Haida Nation announced the Yakoun, Ain and Awun rivers that flow into Masset Inlet, as well as the inlet itself, will remain closed to sockeye fishing for the year.

According to the letter, the decision to close the inlet and rivers to sockeye fishing was based on low sockeye escapement numbers in 2016, biological stress from the April 22 diesel spill in Dinan Bay, and COVID-19 and social distancing measures.

ALSO READ: Shoreline cleanup, sampling complete following Dinan Bay diesel spill

“Poor returns in 2016 and low/below average returns for this brood year combined with coast-wide reductions in marine survival of salmon species suggest low to very low sockeye returns to Masset Inlet in 2020,” the letter said. “The forecasted low returns are also at risk from the diesel spill at Dinan Bay on April 22, 2020. The extent of the damage and/or potential impacts to both our migrating salmon fry and returning adult sockeye to Masset Inlet is not known.

“In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, community members will not be able to traditionally fish in Masset Inlet rivers without breaking social distancing measures. It is for these reasons that Yakoun, Ain and Awun rivers remain closed for 2020.”

The letter said Haida Fisheries will be monitoring sockeye returns on the Yakoun River using Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar and will provide weekly updates regarding sockeye escapement.

“We are also working with other agencies to determine the biological benchmark or target escapement for Yakoun sockeye that will facilitate sustainable fisheries for the foreseeable future,” the letter added.

The public fishery does not have access to the rivers or inlet.

ALSO READ: Dive charter for Haida Gwaii herring stock assessment cancelled due to COVID-19

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